Archives for posts with tag: children

Haiti 1I came back from Haiti with some blister-like thingies on the plant of my left foot. I immediately knew what caused it and it was not mosquitos or a tight pair of unbroken in shoes. It was my own fault. I am usually very disciplined about this — don’t go out on the streets wearing flip flaps, I always tell myself. But for some reason, on my last morning there, I did just that and walked around a swampy area behind a church building where I am sure all sort of bacteria finds a warm home. I saw chicken, pigs, dogs, etc. walking around so I am sure I carried a foreign agent back with me. Glad the German Shepherds at the Miami Airport didn’t spot that!


Now, you have to understand something about me: I am somewhat of a hopeless germophobe.  I’ve gotten better over the years, but I’m a long way from being cured. I don’t even like to touch my own food, I am not a big fan of “sharing” from the same plate and if somebody, and I mean anybody, takes a sip from my drink, that’s it — I ain’t touching it anymore. So I am bad. Pray for me.

With that little piece of TMI, you can imagine my reaction at 3:30 in the morning when I felt those little bumps on my foot. Yes, if you suspected it, you got it right — I called my wife right away! “Don’t touch it!” She exclaimed, “it’s contagious.” From a true germophobe to another! Nice.

I started thinking about people I know who got stuff like this when they were overseas and it turned into a bigger mess than they had anticipated with lots of visits to doctors, trying different medicines and dealing with lots of pain. I wonder if I should go to the urgent care, like right now. I tried to remember if I had topic antibiotic in the house and if the athletes foot cream I saw in a cabin somewhere would do any good.

Haiti 3Then it hit me. Here I was, less than 24 hours removed from this place I had visited, a place ridden with diseases, trash, contaminated water from a canal that serves as a repository from any and all kinds of waste, and yet that’s the place thousands of people call “home.” In fact, I had been with the little kids on the streets who had laughed with me (and at me), calling me “blank” “white man,” making fun of my attempts to speak Creole and generally acting like children in any other part of the world.

Haiti 4

Except, they aren’t. The reality is, these children’s parents do not have the luxury of being germophobe. There is no urgent care facility to take them to when real emergencies struck in the middle of the night. There are no playgrounds. In fact, I saw two little kids on the edge of the canal poking at some fetid plastic bag in the water. I don’t think they were trying to retrieve anything, they were just playing, though I don’t know what the game was. Maybe just a pass the time game.

Haiti 5After I came back to my senses, I realized that though having these “blisters” on my foot is a bit of an inconvenience (and trust me, I’ve already started treating it and want to get rid of it as soon as possible), in one way, it’s like the perfect “souvenir” to bring home, if you want to bring home something that will remind you of the daily plight of the poorest of the poor around the world. I know it’s a different perspective, even a foreign one, but if God, using an experience caused by my own carelessness, desires to stamp me temporarily with the trademark of those who are trapped in a world of enemies lurking in unexpected places, how dare I not accept this infinitely small trial and try to reflect on it from God’s perspective?

Look, I know it’s Christmas and we want to lift ourselves up from the fog of war and the fear of other types of dangerous foreign agents, but believe it or not, to me this is a story that has the elements of a tsunami-like positive force to help me change my focus this Christmas.

Haiti 6So instead of focusing on myself and spending on myself, I will endeavor to bring into a sharper focus the needs of people like the ones I just met on those narrow streets of Cap Haïtien, surrounded by dangers they cannot escape from and yet exhibiting the kind of resilience that I would be blessed to have even to deal with some blisters on my foot, not to speak of the real challenges that lie there in the days ahead.

 So I want to encourage you strongly to give to “the least of these” to use the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, by helping organizations such as Water for Good, World Vision, Hope International, G.R.O.W., CPR-3, Three Strands. These folks, among others, know how to help people in their countries of origin, without creating unhealthy habits of dependence.For those of you who are part of Grace Church, please remember “Birthday Gift for Jesus,” our effort to give to orphans in the CAR and to our new campus in Lancaster.

Think beyond yourself. Give smartly. Spread the word. Embrace your “blisters.”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

I’ve seen some disturbing things in my life. For a while in the early 90’s my route to the university where I taught took me through one of the most dangerous areas of my city. I saw the remains of people killed execution style — a shot between the eyes, followed by torching. A “file burning,” they called it, to refer to the act of eliminating one who knew too much.

As disturbing as that was, it was not the most devastating thing I saw lying on the road. What got me more than anything were the tiny bodies of recently born babies, either abandoned or smothered by their moms. Sometimes they were carefully wrapped in a blanket, but other times they could simply be found on top of a grey trash bag. Unfortunately I had to encounter this more than once, and even after these many years I cannot erase the images from my mind.

While some no doubt use this stark reality to argue for abortion on demand, that thought would never occur to me. What grieved me the most was that whoever the mother was, in that moment of desperation she could not find someone who could provide her with a life-giving alternative to keep her baby.

It is easy for us as the church to speak out against abortion, and we must do that, but the reality is that in the U.S. alone there are 250,000 churches and yet 100,000 children in the foster care system are waiting to be adopted. You do the math. The Church of Jesus Christ could put a big dent in the orphan crisis in the U.S. in one day, between the hours of 9 am to noon. Why are we so timid in taking action?

I have some thoughts as to why this doesn’t seem to be important for the church:

  1. We don’t know the Scriptures that well.

Adoption is a major theme of the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, where it is a favorite metaphor for our redemption in Christ Jesus. There are also countless references in the Old Testament to what I call “the triad of the dispossessed,” namely the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows. The more we study Scriptures, the more we learn of God’s passion for vulnerable children, which He is careful to tell us needs to become our passion.

  1. We are focused on fighting other “wars.”

Many Christians are more preoccupied with keeping the 10 Commandments displayed in public places than with the despicable acts perpetrated against innocent children behind closed doors. We get more energized about keeping “In God We Trust” on our currency than about exposing the use of our currency to traffic women and children. It is time that we reassess the importance of the battles we choose to fight and reallocate our resources toward the battles God wants us to fight. The battle cry to protect at-risk children is sounded high and unmistakably clear in Scriptures.

  1. We think this is a “third world” problem.

First of all, the expression “third world country” doesn’t even make sense anymore in a realigned geopolitical world post the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the Soviet years, the world was divided into three clusters — the “first world,” composed of the few rich nations, “the second world,” meaning the countries under the Soviet/communist bloc, the so-called “Iron Curtain,” and “the third world,” a reference to the poorest one third of the world. It stands to reason that with the fall of communism and the rise of China’s economic power, this distinction has become meaningless.

Of course people still continue to use the expression “third world countries,” either because they don’t know about the genesis of the expression or because they intend to use it pejoratively to refer to a country that, in their way of thinking, is not up to the standards of developed nations.

But I’m digressing. The point here is that though the orphan crisis is indeed a worldwide phenomenon — there are an estimated 153 million orphans around the world — there is still a huge number of children in the foster care system in the United States — 400,000 to be exact — and about half of them are waiting to be adopted. Yes, the problem is much bigger overseas but it is not negligible in one of the richest nations of the world, namely ours. Let’s educate ourselves about the plight of the orphans in our own backyard and let’s become a force for good in this crisis.

I am so proud of our people from Grace Church who are personally involved, have championed, and are contributing financially and in other ways to help at-risk children both here and abroad. Yes, we can do a lot more, but your sacrifice and work of faith are not going unnoticed, especially by God, who loves these precious children more than we can ever imagine.

Join us this Sunday in both services as we learn more about how we can get involved in serving the orphans.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA